Unlocking Deep Intimacy Again Within The Socratic Way Of Life with Bishop Maximus | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "Unlocking Deep Intimacy Again Within The Socratic Way Of Life with Bishop Maximus".


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Intro (00:00)

Welcome everyone to another Voices with Raveki. I'm very excited about this. This is the fourth meeting, more than a meeting, the fourth deep discussion that often gets it close to Dia Logos with my friend and somebody who's taking us on a wonderful journey, Bishop Maximus. Bishop, it's wonderful for you to be here again. I'm looking forward to our conversation. I've been looking forward to it all day. Thank you so much, John. I'm really enthused about being here and I'm, well, I've been looking forward to this conversation as well. There's maybe a sense in which this conversation is going to be the climax of some of the things that we've been talking about previously. So, well, let's get at it. I've been listening to your series after Socrates and you've been talking about dialectic, the dialogue goes, and you've been expositing some of these ideas and also showing some practical ways to make this happen.

Discussion And Critique Of Dialectic In Orthodox Christianity

Background of Bishop Maxim (00:58)

And now, of course, my perspective here is going to be primarily from the Orthodox Christian - Yes. - Menastic tradition or the, rather the, the patristic perspective on this. And it, well, it's not just one thing, it breaks down into many, many different aspects. And I think that these aspects, well, there's certainly differences. There's also hominalities. So it's not, I don't think this is just a question of accept or reject or attack or defend. - Oh, yeah. - You know, it's, I think it's very much a question of just looking at how things fit in or even you could say relevance realization. - Which I would say, yes. Yeah, yeah.

Vervainuta Project (02:28)

We ended last time and thank you for bringing it up. What I was sort of saying, for me, part of the project of reinventio of the Socratic way, the Socratic platonic, Neil platonic way, but I'll call it the Socratic way, is to rediscover these dialectical practices that lead to the process of de logos. And that, for me, converges very powerfully with the cognitive science about collective intelligence, distributed cognition, shared flow states, collective rationality, superseding, individual rationality. So there's a lot of Kog-Sai that converges very powerfully with this Socratic project. And so that's how I'm coming at it. But I have been, yeah, I think this is what I was saying. I've been increasingly impressed by the way in which you've articulated the transfiguration. And I think you've done a good job at unfolding what that means, the transfiguration of Neil Platonism within Orthodox Christianity. And so my question wasn't intended by any means, is yeah, as you said, I'm not opening up a debate or making a challenge. I wanted to know from that, where dialectic shows up as a practice where de logos shows up as something that people participate in. I would call it a process, but you might call it something else. It's a very open question.

The Vertical and Horizontal Dimensions of Dialectic. (04:16)

I wanna know if the dimensions that I've been articulating with Chris's help and Guy's help and Taylor's help are articulated or addressed. I have been astonished, and I'm not speaking hyperbolicly. I'm reading two books by a philosopher theologian that I've just been introduced to by Nate Hill, Catherine Pixtock. One is philosophy after language and the liturgical consummation of philosophy. And then this book that I'm reading now, which I put it in my top five up there with religion and nothingness and DC Schindler's Plato's Cryptic Give-In-Purese, and it's called Aspects of Truth Towards a Religious Metaphysics in which she's arguing for something. I understand there's probably bias, but I was even reading to my partner when we were away, some passages, the convergence between her work and mine, she's obviously unaware of me. I was until literally days ago unaware of her around this. And I think she's a Catholic Christian, but this idea of these dimensions, and she uses the same metaphors that I'm using. There's a horizontal dimension of resonating with other people. There's a vertical dimension in which you're resonating with levels of reality. And so there's vertical and horizontal participation. And then they come in resonance to each other. And what happens is people sort of move through stages of intimacy. There's intimacy with each other. There's intimacy with sort of the we space. And then there's intimacy through that with something much more fundamental, something like how the grammar of the mind and the grammar of reality share of profound conformity because they're both participating in something above them. Do you use horrible spatial metaphors that I would like to challenge elsewhere, but I'll just use them for convenience. And so that's been encouraging to me that, first of all, I'm gonna get her book on Kerkerta Garden Read It Was Christopher Master Petro, just deeply impressed. I'm sorry, I'm not trying to take advantage of you because you probably have not had an opportunity to read this work. But I haven't, although you're picking my curiosity. - Yes, I would love you to read at least the aspects of truth book. And you and I have a discussion about it. I think that would be, I'm not finished it yet. I'm working through it very diligently. But it made it very clear to me that, you know, a profound, she's a profound thinker, profound philosopher, theologian, Christian, was coming to a lot of convergence. Now, she wasn't specifically talking about dialectic as a practice, but she was unfolding these dimensions of intelligibility and experience in a way that was so deeply consonant with what I've been talking about. So that's a very long way of saying, you know, I was asking the question in that sense. I wanted to know where, and again, you know, it doesn't mean that you're authorizing or anything, but like, where is this kind of stuff showing up?

Where dialectic shows up in Orthodox Christianity (07:35)

Because it seems that this is a proper dimension in which people awaken from the meaning crisis because people talk about discovering kinds of intimacy that are not sexual, that are not just friendship, that are nevertheless what they've always been looking for, but they didn't realize it. And that's almost like platonic anemesis, right? There's something, it's in Ventio, they're both discovering and remembering this in a profound way. And it strikes me, if your proposal, that Orthodox Christianity is transfiguring Neoplatonism that it would have also addressed this dimension and that's where the question came from. - Well, as you said, it's a broad question.

Orthodox critique of dialectic (08:36)

- Yes. - So let me try to break this down into a couple different parts and we'll see how many parts we get to. So one part is just the question of dialectic and you know, what is dialectic? How is it understood by the fathers of the church and you know, what aspects of it were accepted by the church? That's one part. And then maybe the other part, at least in my mind, the way that I think about these things was, and when we were speaking last time and I was talking about some of my own personal experience and analysis and approach to Neoplatonism and how at the end, I ended up rejecting dialectic as the, let's say, the means of union with God. But the process by which I went through learning not just platonic dialectic, but the whole purpose of ancient Greek philosophy, which encapsulates dialectic, that this helped me to understand in a better fashion, the fathers of the church who were talking about something slightly different, which would be something like theoria, contemplation. - Yes, yes. - And the way that we have contemplation in the Orthodox church, according to the way that St. Maximus develops it and other fathers of the church developed it in which I then incorporated it into my own life and in a way which, well, it allowed me to blossom or to flourish in a way that I couldn't, I wasn't able to before. So those are kind of the two, the two poles that I would use in order to approach the question. Now, if we go, if we start with a dialectic, that's the first point, it's the starting point of a whole discussion here. I think there's a framing issue that we really have to address in order to have this conversation. - Please. - So, you know, the fathers of the church tend to make negative comments about dialectic. The, you know, they will, they basically will, I mean, in some of these dialects, some of these negative comments were directed towards some heretics who were using dialectic, like the Unomians or the extreme Arians who had this idea that God is perfectly comprehensible by means of dialectic. - Right, right. - So they were attacking that idea of this perfect comprehensibility, you know, they said, you can, we can perfectly understand the essence of God, which is unbeknownstness and we can arrive at that perfect understanding from dialectic. - Right, right. - Which obviously is not what you're saying. - No. And, you know, there are also some criticisms of the, you know, of the platonic dialectic. The criticism, the basic core criticism of the fathers, vis-a-vis dialectic, is that it is not a sufficient tool to get us all the way up to God. Basically because dialectic versus the, the use of human reason and when, as human reason approaches the, let's say the limit, the grounding, the foundation, whatever is behind and beyond and under and above, you know, our reality as we experience it, reason breaks down and is incapable of expressing it or perhaps even incapable of accessing it. And so the criticism of the fathers, the primary criticism was that dialectic is doesn't have the ability to get us beyond that line as it were, because by its very nature, it's limited to what's within the, you know, the created world within reality. Of course, we, you know, we say reality, Ta-wanda in Greek and God is done included in that. So, the fathers of the church, you know, they proposed a different way of getting to God, which was, of course, through the purification of the soul through prayer and ultimately the idea that if we can't get to God through our own power, because there is a limit to what rationality can accomplish, then that means that in order to be with God or to have union with God, that means that God has to come down to us. And of course, that occurs in its most complete and perfect form in the incarnation of Christ. The incarnation of Christ being the, you know, the union, the perfect union between God and man, between heaven and earth, between the created and the uncreated, between the intelligible and the sensible, you know, breaking down the middle wall of partition, same Paul says, which can be understood in various ways, but, you know, it's the connection between God and man. It's also the model by which we understand how reality is supposed to be. In other words, that things are not supposed to be in antagonism towards each other or there should not be in an adversarial relationship, but there should be an positive relationship with each other. And so this was expressed at the Council of Calcadon, the idea of the two natures of Christ and that the two natures of Christ are united. They use four adverbs without separation, without division, without change, without confusion. And so we, in the Orthodox Church, we understand this to be both a model and a means by which all dualities, all dyads are to be reconciled. And so if you, then if you, all right, so you take that idea, that this is the primary patristic idea, vis-a-vis dialectic, and then you really look at dialectic. The problem that you have with dialectic is that dialectic in the ancient world was not just one thing, there were different approaches to dialectic, it was used, the word was used in different ways.

Fynn's perspective on Neoplatonic dialectic (16:13)

- Yes. - You know, even within Plato, you have different ways of using dialectic. You know, there's a dialectic which is heuristic, you know, which is a debate essentially. And you know, that aspect of dialectic was somewhat promoted by Aristotle. And well, it helped to serve to give dialectic a bad name. - Yeah. - I mean, you know, because people are understanding is adversarial. - And logical, I mean, but Plotinus in his treatise on dialectic takes pain, and I talk about this in the series, takes pain to argue that it's not primarily a matter of logic that what he's talking about when he's talking about dialectic. He's talking about something that has the, the Theoria aspect in it this way and has a transformational aspect in it this way. And so it's not primarily something between acts of speech. It's a way, it's a set of practices for bringing about those sort of vertical and horizontal, I'll use some of my language reciprocal opening. But I don't think that's imposing on Plotinus to-- - No, no, so all right.

Dialectic and its negative connotation (17:56)

So what I was trying to set up there was, was why there's, why in the Orthodox Church you can see sometimes a negative attitude towards dialect. - I understand that, yeah. - So, all right. So I want to set that up first before I go into the next part. - Okay, please, please. - Which is why it's actually not as negative as it seems at first glance. So the framing issue is that I think it's a, it becomes partly a question of, of what are you comparing Botanic Dialectic to? What is your reference point? And from what I can see, from what I can understand the viewer, your lectures, your talks, you are trying to promote Botanic or Neopotonic Dialectic as a healthier way of using our, well, our minds and our whole beings, instead of the dominant mode of rationality, which we have in our modern world, which is Cartesian ultimately in its derivation. That, you know, that Descartes had this idea of, you know, basically reducing everything to mathematics or the mathematical model. So dialectic in reason becomes propositional, completely propositional. - Yes. - All of the other aspects that you talk about, you know, the perspectival, the participational, these fall away, this becomes the model of rationality that dominates the, well, from the Enlightenment onward. And which has caused so many problems in the modern world because we're just so focused on this one propositional aspect of rationality and we're ignoring all these other aspects. That's, is that a fair appeal? - Yes. And so the model there is much more the third way scholarship around the, you know, the actual Socratic Platonic Dialogues, right? What's happening in there where the argument is not exclusive or even to be prioritized over the drama, over the, over the perspectival interaction over the appearance of aporia, over the attempt to follow the logos as it unfolds rather than to mandate it. And yes, you said, a monological universal mathematics or something like that. So yeah, I'm trying to get so a place where rationality is re-understood as ratio. We've talked about that and it's understood as dialogical and it's understood. - Forgive me for, forgive me for interjecting. In Greek, we would say, or phospholos. That's the phrase that, well, the Aristotle and the other ancient Greek philosophers, the orphoslogos or phosph means correct. Like we haven't, we're Orthodoxy, correct believe. Logos, obviously with the whole range of meanings. So see orphoslogos, the correct reason, the correct relationship, the correct approach is all encapsulated in this idea of our phosphologos. And I think what you're saying is really orphoslogos, that's what we need to recap. And I think that orthologos is a proper proportioning and relation of your and my attention and what we're doing right now, not just the extraction of the propositions that we're uttering, that Socrates is as much talking about, in fact, I think more, creating, enabling people to enter into right relationship to virtues and to each other rather than, he doesn't give definitions, right? He in fact, he invites them only to show how they need to be transcended. For me, I think that's exactly right. I think I'm trying to figure out how we can break out Ruchnik in his book, The Tragedy of Reason, beautifully as a section on how Descartes is actually hostile to logos and reduces it and replaces it rather deliberately with logic and a monologic at that. And I think this is fair. I hope that you find it fair.

Working towards a re-understanding of Logos and Ratios (22:57)

I wanna recover the 4E logos, the enacted, embedded, extended, embodied logos. And I don't wanna do that in a fashion that's orthogonal to the Christian discussion of logos. I'm trying to show that in this series and that's gonna come out even more when we have the series within the series. And Chris and I do the relationship between Socrates and Kierkegaard as trying to bring out that discussion and give it a focal point. So I guess if I had to put it, I think you're exactly right, I'm trying to recover, but I don't wanna recover it just in theory. I wanna recover it in theoria. I wanna recover it as something that has to do with how people are fundamentally proportioning their connectedness to each other and to the reality. That end, I'm not making claims about that that is a process. In fact, I'm making exactly the opposite. Descartes didn't like logos because it's messy. It's imperfect, it's indefinite, it's ongoing. This was the things he doesn't like about it. And that's exactly what I'm trying to recover and how that's a more proper notion of Ratio and logos. I do think that the proposal that both cognition and reality are laid out dialectically, which we can talk about that at some point. I think that is a profound idea that is also deeply explored in the Christian Neoplatonic tradition. Coosa and Aragena are two people I'm gonna talk about soon. And I couldn't talk about Maximus 'cause I don't have, my ignorance, I still need to know more. I still need to learn more. - Yeah, that will take about 20 years. - No doubt, no doubt. And I gave a talk at Rawson, I don't know if you saw it, about where I'm trying to bring back, make respectable. - I saw that talk. I watched it, actually, I need to watch it again because you were trying to relate to the levels of intelligibility of the world. And I think they're a process that I didn't quite get, so I need to go over that. - Me too. - No, I agree with everything you're saying right now. And so the point I'm trying to make here is that when the fathers of the church were speaking negatively about biorectic, they were speaking negatively about it. Vis-a-vis, it's what they viewed as its excessive claims to be able to accomplish union with God.

What the Church Fathers viewed as excess in Dialectic (25:35)

That's their central criticism. However, the fathers of the church did accept dialectic for everything that was below that, which is a huge range of everything. - Yeah. - Well, everything that is part of reality. So you have in the fathers of the church, you have the, well, I use an acceptance of, well, the components of glatonic dialectic, there's the collection and division, there is the abstraction, there's the intercommunication, there's the logic, then you have all of Aristotle's categories and the ways that these will work out, the ammonium categories, and all of which kind of entered into dialectic or had a relationship with it. And this was all accepted by the church. So the question here really is, what are we using dialectic for? And what is its purpose and what are we relating it to? - So from the orthodox point of view, if we're trying to, let's say, replace Christianity with dialectic, then we're not going to accept that part. - I get that. - But if we're going to use it as a corrective to the excesses of the Cartesian model, well, then it's not only is it a good approach, I would say that it is a necessary approach or an indispensable approach. - Yes.

Our Christian foundations are Greco-Roman influenced - Plotinus (28:01)

- And so I think the way that, the way that, of course, we think of Christian civilization and it's reducing it to its simplest elements. It's the fusion, the combination of the biblical part and the Greco-Roman heritage. You know, particularly the philosophical part. And these were, they came together and we spoke a little bit previously about how they came together slightly differently in the Eastern and the West. But in both they did come together. And so, ultimately in both the Eastern and the West, the things that you were talking about, the dialectic and all of its components and the alavos that you are trying to have proceed from it, these were all accepted as a basic part of education. And so, and I mean, this is how I would look at it. And I think this is how most Orthodox theologians would look at it is that dialectic is an integral and indispensable element of what you could broadly call the classical education. And that it is something that everybody who's trying to develop themselves ought to learn and ought to practice actively to the extent that they're capable of doing so. Obviously everybody has different levels of interesting different capabilities. But, you know, like if you read Plotinus' essay on dialectic in his veneads, I mean, it's a beautiful little treatise. - It is. - It's very beautiful and there's nothing, there's nothing on Christian in it. He's talking about the, I mean, perhaps the emphasis would be not quite the same emphasis that we were put in. And certainly we know that at the end, the goals or the claims are going to be different. But just when he talks about the process itself, you know, and he talks about, for a subtraction, the whole point of collection and division and gathering in order to be able to understand the forms to be able to go from, you know, a concrete, good action or some particular beautiful thing to that, which is to the beautiful itself, to the good itself, to the true itself. You know, Plotinus explains that this is a central part of what dialectic is and the contemplation of this is what elevates the mind up to higher realities and which allows a person to transcend, not just transcend this physical world, which of course we would say that the Plageness overly denigrated the body or matter, but to elevate a person spiritually, spiritually, so that they can progress in virtue. So, you know, there's this idea that you have in the, in the fathers of the Church, like St. Maximus says, it's explicitly that in order to overcome the passions or we could say devices or we could say sins, it's all part of the same category of problematic behaviors and attitudes, which we all have. It's not just enough to reject it. It's not just enough to not want it. He says that you need to have a higher contemplation, something you need to have something better to replace it with otherwise you're just never gonna do it. - I agree, I think, right. - So, so these, you know, so that the dialectic, insofar as it ascends upwards and gives us a contemplation of higher goods and ultimately higher virtues, this actually has the practical effect of giving us the tools to overcome vice and to acquire virtue. So it's not, you know, it's, as I think you're trying to do in your talks, in your program, you know, it's not disconnected from life. Rather, it's very much integrated into our practical life and our attempt to be virtuous.

Peters'' Four Fold Practice of DialecticL Being Conscious (33:17)

- I think that's well said. Maybe I could interject at this point and say a few things in response. First of all, that reframing was extremely helpful. So thank you for that. Secondly, I would, and I don't think you're gonna disagree with this, I would say that those processes, those movements should not be understood as abstract conceptual moves within a taxonomy, the division and the gathering together. For me, this is much more a theoria. It's much more phenomenological and intentional in nature than it is just abstraction in a purely conceptual sense. It's very much about learning to like, you know, like I talk about, you know, you meditatively break things down and you contemplatively put them back together and it's a phenomenological shift. It is not just like I say, just a logical process. And that's what, I think I would argue that's what Platonius is objecting to in Aristotle. He's objecting to two, he's objecting to Aristotle, making it a matter of propositions rather than a matter of attentional transformation. And he pretty much says that explicitly. - Yes, yes, exactly. - Yeah. - And so I, like part of what I'm trying to do is recover the, look, we can't even say the words analysis and synthesis without thinking of them in a Cartesian mathematical terms. I'm trying to help people recover a non-mathematical theoria sense of those as something you can practice. So you get a phenomenological disclosures of sort of the ligaments of intelligibility for yourself. And it goes from being things you think to being events you realize and processes you participate in. And I think that is a very important thing I'm trying to do. Just like if I could just get people to replace sort of the conceptual Lego model that you get of those terms with a contemplative zooming in, zooming out and moving from different perspectives way of doing it.

Horizontal I-Thou relationships (35:17)

And here I'm helped by the work I do with Dan Shappi and John Rousin and others about trying to integrate Plato and phenomenology back together again. I guess the reason why I'm saying that is because for me, there's a horizontal aspect to this too, which is, and here I'm trying to capture something and we have an episode around this coming Boobers notion of the I though, right? That part of what we're doing is learning how to not conceptualize but to Alathea, to recover, to discover, to enter into the I thou mode with other people and remember it, which is very similar to remembering the distinction, remembering Sati, the distinction between the being mode and the having mode. And I think there's deep connections between the being mode and the I thou. And so for me, that horizontal I thou is also an integral part. And that of course is captured very clearly in the Socratic dialogues in some of the metaphors that Socrates uses for himself. He compares himself to a midwife helping people to give birth to themselves, right? And so that's clearly a profound I thou relationship going on there. And I think that horizontal dimension of the I thou and then the vertical dimension that we've been talking about here, I think recovering them and then realizing them. And then also realizing how they have this, they have an affinity affordance of each other. They are affined such that they afford each other. The more this is happening, right? The more this becomes possible and vice versa. And I think that's has to do with sort of truths about perspectival knowing and participation and et cetera. So I just wanted to say, I'm giving a phenomenological reading to what Plotinus is doing that vertical. And then I'm also trying to give this, I don't know what, Boober always resisted all the labels, right? He wouldn't call himself a philosopher or theologian or an existentialist or whatever. But that horizontal dimension that Boober emphasizes. And what do you think about that?

Exploring Dialectic, Dialogic Relationships And Spirituality

Recovering a classical education (dialectic) (37:41)

Does that land well for? - Well, I agree with it. And I guess not only do I agree, but I think that it's part of a necessary correction to be the whole world framing that we have right now. - Yeah, yeah. - I think it's a necessary, absolutely a necessary framing. Now, maybe I think of it in slightly different terms than you, although I think they're conversion terms. I think of it in terms of recovering a classical education. - Yes. - And in terms of this, the dialectic in the positive sense, not a risk, not an argument where I'm trying to beat you down and I'm trying to win. But a positive relationship where ultimately the result is a growth of both aspects. Now, I mean, we can apply that in different ways because there's dialectic in this dialect, right? - Yeah. - You cannot do DLLOGOS. Like I keep emphasizing that dialectic is a thing you can practice that conduces the possibility of DLLOGOS occurring. But if you think it is something you can do or make, it's like thinking you can one-sidedly run a conversation or one-sidedly make someone your friend or like it is something you can, you, for me, and this is an important dimension of it, you can only participate in DLLOGOS and it is a proper way of realizing participation in a non like other and then in something other than just a conceptual philosophical sense. It is about actually, oh, this is what participation is. This gives me a deeper understanding, the non-propositional understanding of what participation is. And that's why I insist on, yet dialectic is something you can do, it's a practice, and therefore you teach people to do it, but the process of DLLOGOS, if it doesn't self-organize and take on a life of its own, then it's not DLLOGOS, it's just not DLLOGOS, that's what I mean by it. Like if you, to my mind, and I think, I think, you're not resisting here anything, but I would really defend this, right? If dialectic is not allowing people to participate in participation, if that doesn't sound silly, then we've lost something from the platonic, we've lost something that Plato was emphasizing, right? You should be, DLLOGOS should be you inventio, deep profound inventio of participation as a profound reality for all of those involved. - Well, I agree. Again, I even say that I have nothing against the program that you're laying out, because basically the way that I'm viewing it is the expression of the classical education of, of Plato and integrating elements of, large elements of Aristotle, but more platonic framework. And then integrating into that, some of the modern advances in cognitive science, which I don't think, which I don't think contradicted at all, I think they are rigid rather. And there's certainly nothing objectionable in that enrichment. So, the way that I see this is basically the, how can I say? I don't wanna say adoption. I wanna say the application or the reintegration of the classical education with genuine advances of the modern world that we can't ignore, because we don't want to be just romantic dreamers, or try to recreate a mythical past that probably never really existed in the way that we imagine it. But genuinely taking what is valuable from the wisdom of the ancient, which is tremendous in its scope and in its truth and its beauty, and using it in the modern world in order to have a correct orientation, we can say in our fossil logos, the you use what you use, direct the ratsu or rekta relegio, these Latin terms, which are the same thing as the Greek. Because we've gone way too far in another direction. So, I totally agree with that. Not only do I agree with that, I think it's indispensable for the world. I honestly don't see how we can have any kind of real correction of the fundamental problems that we have in the world today without some sort of a return to these basic elements of, let's say, we could say philosophy, dialectic reason, understanding, logos, however you want to express it, without reintegrating them into our understanding of the world. I don't think that it can be done without it. - Well, thank you. I think that's-- - And so to the extent that you're trying to promote this and also obviously integrating some modern cognitive science into it, I think that not only is it a good project, it's an indispensable project. So in essence, I completely agree and I'm thoroughly behind you.

Immanence, uncertainty, and Gnosticism (44:30)

- Well, first of all, thank you for saying that. I thought that was both very careful and generous and also supportive in a non-trivial fashion. I wanted to ask you something that I didn't get to bring up in the series and it strikes me that you're the right person to talk to it about it. And it goes back to your point at the beginning about the negative view because there's a sense of which glad has to come down. And I wanted to ask you something and I know you probably won't ultimately agree but I wanna hear what you think about it 'cause you probably know I've been profoundly influenced by Tillock. Now of course, Tillock comes out of the Protestant tradition and I get that but he is also deeply influenced by non-Protestant sources and even non-Christian religions. So I don't, he, I mean, I think it's fair to say that Tillock is a very non-traditional Protestant in a lot of ways. - That definitely fair to say. - Yeah, and I think he's God beyond God, the God beyond the God of Theism, I think is very similar to a lot of things you've said, not identical but I think similar. Why do I bring Tillock up?

The dialogical relationship, human reason, and questions (45:58)

Because Tillock had this idea and I didn't put it in the series 'cause it's something I'm just thinking about. So I'm really just like, let's talk about it. He had this idea of a dialogical relationship, right? Where human beings can't, they can't command or generate and this is also some of the negative versions of theology. They can't manufacture or manipulate revelation in any way. I'll just use his terms, right? But what he said, it's not just simple imposition from God. He thought it was a dialectic or a dialogical relationship in that what human beings can do and you'll see why this is so socratic. What human beings and human reason, broadly construed the way we're construing it 'cause I think that's also what he was doing. They can form the questions that help to properly frame how we could receive the revelation. We can form the questions, we can't get the answers, but of course answers can't exist unless there are questions that have been posed if I can put it that way. And so he thought the relationship even there that you were talking about might be understood dialogically. Now, and you of course, you don't have any worries about synergism. We've talked about that before. - I said, yeah, that just bumped in. Yeah, as soon as you said that I was thinking to myself, it's synergy. - Yeah, that's exactly right. And it's a dial. And for me, this is, I mean, this is so socratic, right? Because at the core of Socrates is the questioning quest or the questing questioning that is trying to make you receptive to something that you can't generate on your own. And I was wondering if you thought that there's even a way, and if you reject this, that's fine, we're friends. And I like our friendship a lot. But if there's a way, I've been thinking about this about what maybe even that relationship it can be properly understood as dialogical and dialogical synergistic in the way I was just saying that, well, that's it. I've explained it.

Prayer is dialog with God, dialogical growth, and delusion (48:12)

And what, like what lands for you? What does that evoke or positively provoking you about it? - Well, I'll tell you what just immediately comes to mind, which is that first of all, for Christians, prayer is dialog with God. - Yeah, yes, yeah. - The Eleblos, maybe in the most profound sense. And it goes both ways. It has to go both ways. - Right. - And we believe, or rather we experience, that to the extent that a person grows in prayer, that the dialogical element increases. In other words, when you first start praying, it often feels like it's a monologue. - Yes. - Yes. - And for many people, it's like you feel like you're talking to a wall. But when you work through that and we understand this not in isolation because for us, it has to take place in the context of the mysteries of the church. We use the word mystery instead of sacrament, which by the way, to use your terminology, mystery indicates a transjective relationship. - Yes, yes, yes. - The purification, the purification of the soul, which is necessary, the acquisition of virtue. I can say, as you've also repeated many times, a truth which we also emphasize, there's not just one thing that you do that solves everything. - Right. - There has to be a whole world of beliefs and practices and attitudes, which all together help to properly orient us and ultimately to help us to participate in God. So, when we talk about prayer, we do think of it as a dialogue properly speaking and to the extent that we grow in prayer, the dialogical element increases, because we become increasingly cognizant of the presence of God. Now, that presence of God can manifest itself in different ways. Obviously, there can easily be an element of self-deception involved. - Of course. - Yeah. - How many people say God told me to do this? - Yeah. - God told me to do that. It was the spirit that led me to do this. And it's like, spirit led me to buy a blue car. That's just the imagination itself, projecting something and it's ultimately a form of delusion, which is why, as you often mentioned, we need wisdom in order to be able to discern between truth and truth and error, not just propositionally, but actually in practice as well. So, the first thing that comes to mind is that is prayer as dialogue, or the aligos which, because we understand this in terms of, as levels, basically in the de-anecian sense. We have these three levels of the spiritual life. We have the purification, we have the illumination, and we have the de-ification. To the extent that one grows, as I said, it becomes more biological. And then by, at the same time, it's synergistic. - Yeah, yeah, yeah. - Because, well, how could it be otherwise? I mean, if it's not synergistic, then we're just, what are we puppets? Are we just cause playthings? Not to mention the worst directions that kind of logic can go into where you end up with things like double predestination and God creates people for the sole purpose of damning them to hell, and they can't do anything about it. I mean, just like horrible distortions of Christianity that people have actually believed.

Synergy vs Deformation (52:51)

So, we have to have synergy, otherwise there's, if there's no synergy, there's no meaning. Let's put it that way. - Well, I made the argument, if there's no synergy, there's no participation, right? And I think prayer, I hadn't given enough thought about this, but prayer follows the model. Like if you try to make it from a one-sided, that's where you're gonna get a lot of the egregious deformities that you're talking about. Like granted, people will start monologic, but they have to undergo significant transformation where it's not something they're monologically making, it's something they're dialogically participating in. And I think- - Well, I agree, but I think that's, that dialogue or the allogos can, I can say, like many practices, you have to grow in it, and you have to go through steps. And I think that sometimes, for many people, the allogos starts out somewhat monologically. - Of course, I wasn't criticizing that. - Yeah, well, because you can see it in Plato, look at how many of Plato's dialogues are Socrates just asking questions, and the other person just says, yes, yes, yes, I agree, of course. It's like, is that a dialogue? I mean, where the other person just says, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. I mean, I don't think that's what you're looking for. In your dialogue, the other person was just, you're talking to the other person is just nodding, and I'm saying, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. But it's the beginning of a dialogue. - Yes. - It's the beginning of a dialogue. So there's a beginning that starts kind of monologically, but as it grows, it grows into the, to be gallefuls. - That's exactly what I wanted to emphasize, that that growth is something you can't make happen. You have to commit yourself, you have to cultivate it to use, I think, a good metaphor. I don't mean to trespass upon you in where we are running out of time, but... When it becomes...

Life as a butterfly (55:35)

I'm asking, I hope you consider me a friend. I'm asking this as a friend. - I do, I do, John, very much. - Sure, good. What is it like in a really profound meaning of that, almost like what's it like to be about? What's it like when prayer becomes dialogical? What does that mean? And I understand all the important caveats. You could be confusing it with projection, you could be engaged in self-deception. Let's say that nevertheless, there are clear times when the wisdom, the discernment is there, the theoria, you can see into the depths of things, and it becomes dialogical. How does that, and I don't wanna just use the word experience because that's too cartesian and limited. But what is that like? I can't put it in a... I don't wanna put it in other terms 'cause the other terms are gonna be insulting or reductive. I'm just trying to give you this open-ended question about, I wanna know, I wanna understand. - And if that's a question you don't wanna answer, I'm fine. - Well, it's a profound question, or maybe it has a profound answer because it refers to something so deep within the human soul. - As I said, we understand it to be three, we use the model, I'm not saying that this is the only way to look at it, but we use the Dionysian model of purification, illumination, and contemplation. And we understand that the interaction with God or we could say with God's grace, which of course the word that I've touched we're understanding is energies. So actually God, not some sort of intermediary. That this increases to the extent that we grow, that we grow spiritually. And so the, let's say the true, we can experience little bits of it on a lower level. And I think a lot of people, maybe most sincere Christians have experienced a little bit of it from time to time, when they're praying and they can feel that God is somehow there with them. That's just, that's like a tiny little taste, a drop of what's the actual experience of, I guess what you would call, "biological prayer." The where it can manifest itself in different ways. Certainly we would refer to it as the presence of God. In other words, the presence of God in a way that is absolutely real, that cannot be confused with a feeling or a mental projection where you have the perception of God being there. Just as I perceive you, John, being there and I'm talking with you and your presence is there, of course, intermediated by the technology, which does reduce the level of presence. If we were in person speaking, of course, we would both feel each other's presence more intensely and more dynamically. But so that sense of presence becomes more apparent, more manifest. And then the dialogical element, of course, it's usually not in the sense of words, right? - No, no, I get that. - Not that that never happens. We most certainly believe that sometimes God can actually say words, but that's not the usual way that happens, rather. It is a, there is a deep understanding of what is our relationship to God. What is God's, let's say God's providence for us and for the whole world, then what is our relationship to the world understood within the framework of God and this kind of gets to the contemplation of the low gear according to St. Maximus. And so how can you say that the dialogical element comes in not so much in the sense of, I'm saying one thing and then you're saying now that thing, we're going back and forth, but rather in the sense of understanding and participating immediately in all these relations. So what the term that you use, the trans-transjectiveness or the trans-jective relationship, which I like that term, this is becoming present and we're actually participating in it. So I think it's, what you talk about, you talk about in the dialogues between two people and how you're, oh, it's not, it's not just that you're using a technique in order to, just to go back and forth, you're trying to manifest a participate in something that's a little bit, that's larger, maybe that's even greater than some of the, than the some of its parts.

The Process And Possibilities Of Dialogos

Respect for the process (01:01:21)

And you know, you probably, I assume that you would relate that to ideas like flow. - Yes. - You know, so, so basically, and of course that's where you're leading with the, with the alogos, right? That's, you know, the, the the alogos is not, is not just there for itself, because there's a, there's a lot, there's something larger. - Yes. - That's, that's appearing within that, that framework. Well, in, in prayer, I mean, in, in true prayer, what you would call dialogical burial, even though we, no, we don't really use that phrase. It's, that's kind of like what's happening. - I see. - Except on the wider scale, because it's not just you and me, it's, it's me and everything. - Right. - Yeah. - Does that make, does that make sense? - It does, it does. That was very helpful. And, and you made me reflect upon that I need to do a little bit more reflection on the deeper connections between the phenomenology of, and I don't mean just the appearance. I mean it in a deep sense, like Marluponti's sense. The phenomenology, the relationship between the phenomenology of prayer and the phenomenology of D'Alogo's, 'cause I think the way you're, you're, it's, it's, it's odd to me that I never thought to, I, you know, to make that connection very clear. But I, I wanna thank you for bringing that out.

The potentials and limitations of dialogos (01:03:18)

I want, I need to think about this. It's, it's very thought provoking to do it. I'm very appreciative of it. It's very juicy. I'm gonna need to wrap it up for today. But we of course are going to talk again. And it's, well, you know, and we had no problems with technology this time. We were just very smooth and, I really enjoyed this, I've, I've enjoyed all of our discussions and the way they get to this other place. And the way they, they, they sort of become enacted symbols, they tend to point beyond themselves in powerful ways and just really appreciated this.

Concluding Remarks

Fr. John Antony Paraskevopoulos (01:03:47)

And I found this one really, really, really rich as always. So I just wanted to thank you for that. - Well, I thank you, John, for the opportunity to talk about these things. And, you know, there is the Aligos going on because, you know, it's, it's not just you asking me questions and giving you answers. You know, there's, you are, the interaction between the two of us is something that causes me to think and to, and to grow. I hope, I hope, I believe. And, you know, I think that this is, well, I would express it in terms that's, probably you wouldn't use, but hopefully that you understand that this is, that it's, that it's God's will and that it is a part of the means by which God helps me, maybe you grow in, grow in wisdom, I hope, in understanding and in ultimately in what we would, what you would call the proper perspectival relationship. - Yeah. - Yeah. - So I mean, this is, we didn't really get to it, but ultimately this refers to the perspectival level. - Totally that sense of presence. That's the criterion of realness within perspectival knowing is that sense of presence that you were putting so, so much of an emphasis on it. I think that's exactly right. - So, so thank you, thank you, John, as always for the opportunity to speak with you. - Thank you very much.

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